Haydn Makes You Healthy

Well not just Haydn, or classical music for that matter – a recent study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health has shown that the greater an individual’s engagement in cultural activities, the greater the benefit to their personal health. This trend exists across many different artistic and creative pursuits, and affects both men and women. The participants in the study were asked questions concerning their health, satisfaction in life, and levels of anxiety and depression, as well as questions pertaining to their involvement in participatory (playing an instrument, painting, singing, etc.) or receptive (going to a concert or play) culture.

Both types of cultural activity were linked with good health, wellbeing, low stress and low depression even when other factors, such as social background and wealth, were taken into account. In men the effect was most pronounced in those who preferred to get their dose of culture as an observer rather than doing something more hands on.

So next time you’re feeling down or under the weather, get out there and indulge your creative side!

Read the full article at the BBC.

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DIY Glasses for the Poor

Something like 6 percent of the North American population wears glasses. If you’re amongst these four-eyes, you probably appreciate your local optometrist, who makes your vision possible. Unfortunately, people in developing countries don’t get to have a local optometrist — and that means no glasses. Happily, an inventor has just created glasses that people can adjust themselves, obviating the need for prescriptions and experts. And he’s getting them out to the people who need them.

The implications of bringing glasses within the reach of poor communities are enormous, says the scientist. Literacy rates improve hugely, fishermen are able to mend their nets, women to weave clothing. During an early field trial, funded by the British government, in Ghana, Silver met a man called Henry Adjei-Mensah, whose sight had deteriorated with age, as all human sight does, and who had been forced to retire as a tailor because he could no longer see to thread the needle of his sewing machine. “So he retires. He was about 35. He could have worked for at least another 20 years. We put these specs on him, and he smiled, and threaded his needle, and sped up with this sewing machine. He can work now. He can see.”

Read more at The Guardian

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A Good Night’s Sleep is Amazing

Apparently the best thing you can do is for your body is give it a good night’s sleep.

But a new study presented at the 2009 meeting of the Society for Neuroscience shows how disrupting your sleep cycle can interfere with your health and cognitive function. (1) Researchers from Rockefeller University disrupted the circadian rhythms of mice by exposing them to 10 hours of light followed by 10 hours of darkness. After two months of this, the mice were in need of more than a little nap. They had difficulty learning. They were more impulsive. And they got fat, thanks in part to changes in appetite hormones and metabolism.

These changes all reflect a problem with one thing: self-regulation. Even at the most basic task of homeostasis-maintaining normal body temperature-these mice were messed up. One reason why: The researchers found changes in the animals’ medial prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain most important for self-control. This area of the brain is especially sensitive to disruptions in sleep and diet.

This isn’t the first study to show that interrupting natural sleep cycles is harmful. A previous study (whose mouse participants were even more unfortunate) found that chronic jet lag can be fatal. (2) Uh, yikes. Suddenly my frequent flier miles are looking less appealing. Another study, this time with hamsters in the unfortunate role of the sleep-disrupted, found that altering natural circadian rhythms results in systemic organ disease. (3)

Plenty of other studies have found that the more common sleep problem-not enough-interferes with stress management, emotion regulation, learning, and willpower.

Keep reading at Psychology Today.

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Improve Your Fitness by Being Simple

Unsurprisingly being fit and staying fit is easy for some people and not so easy for others. If you are finding it difficult to maintain a healthy body because you don’t have access to proper equipment there is no reason you can’t work out minimally. Zen Habits has an article on how to have a minimalist workout.

It takes no equipment to get a great workout and get in shape, and with one or two pieces of simple equipment, you can turn that great workout into a fantastic one, you magnificent beast, you.
And with little or no equipment required for a fantastic workout, you can do it at home, or wherever you are. Even if you’re in solitary confinement.
It’s hard not to find time for this type of workout — you can do it while watching TV, for goodness sake!

Not into working out for your fitness? Well there are other things that you can do, in fact 25 things you can do to improve your health.

11. Get friends that live healthy
The ongoing interaction with people who have the health you desire will be a positive influence on you. It is far easier to make the transition to healthy living when you have the social support.

12. Find healthy foods you enjoy
Just because you are eating healthy does not mean you need to suffer eating foods you hate. Look for healthy foods you enjoy and eat them more often. Find recipes online that are both healthy and enjoyable.

13. Take your lunch to work
Not only will brown bagging your lunch save you some money, it will help you avoid eating unhealthy foods for lunch. Take the extra time to make your lunch in the morning or make extra for dinner and eat the leftovers.

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Anger is a Myth

Alright, the title is a little misleading, but it’s close. People approach anger in different ways, some “blow off steam” while others will meditate. What’s the best option? I have no clear idea, but the good news is that one blogger explores some myths about anger.

Myth 1: Anger and aggression are natural for humans

The idea that humans are born with a basic instinct for anger and aggression has been used to explain just about everything from marital arguments to global warfare.

Although this way of thinking makes some sense, it has one major flaw.

Successful evolution has been based on cooperation, not destructive conflict and aggression. Even primates fight in an organized manner.

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